From household chores to financial decisions, dealing with a partner's quirks is commonplace in every relationship. But it can contribute significantly to a couple’s overall relationship health as well as potentially pave the way for conflict.
But change is not easy, and especially when said behavior has been ingrained in him or her for years. Think about the last time you had to make lifestyle changes you weren't used to - tough, wasn't it?
#1 Identify why they bother you
The daily stresses and hassles of work as well as the outside environment are enough to make us feel a little more frazzled at the end of the day - and then you come home to shaved facial hair in the sink and the toilet seat is up again (the gender battle that's as old as time). You feel something boiling inside of you.
Hit pause right there. Before you snap, these are some questions to ask yourself: "Why is this habit bothering me?", "Is it really that big of a deal to me?", "Is it damaging... or just annoying?"
Are you really angry about the toilet lid being up? At times, the accumulation of everyday stresses (like work difficulties or the daily commute) could also be the source of our discontentment, which we may possibly misattribute to our partners' actions.
#2 Reframe your own thinking
What bugs you may not be a big deal to them. Or for example, he could have left the dishes in the sink to handle them later - but you only saw that he hasn't done them yet.
It's often easy to ignore our own quirks because we've been living with it your whole life. While you were seething at the way he constantly forgets to do something you've requested ("How difficult is it to leave the toilet lid down?", you could have been leaving the bed unmade or keeping the lights on in empty rooms.
#3 Rethink your approach
Not surprisingly, you may find that nagging, guilt-tripping or controlling haven't been much help in altering your partner's behaviour. You may find, instead, that your partner has switched off (no ones likes feeling bad about themselves), which just pushes your buttons further.
Find a time where both of you are in a neutral mood to broach the subject - speak about how it makes you feel, and if a change can be discussed to better the relationship, in a non-judgmental way. Instead of immediately shifting the blame to them, let the other party explain why (without cutting in!). (See also: 6 must-knows to having a healthy argument with your spouse)
If it's an unhealthy habit like an addiction or unwise financial decisions that has you worried, it is especially important to offer empathy, understanding and support when talking about the subject. Do they know it's not good for them? They probably already do, and perhaps deep down, they want to change. But giving in and falling back into the same routine is often way too easy.
#4 Be your partner's cheerleader
Encouragement, especially from a loved one, goes a long way. When he or she has enacted a certain act, adding a positive stimulus associates said behaviour with something positive, which makes them more likely to want to repeat it again. It also shows your spouse you are paying attention to what they're doing. Follow up periodically, but with understanding, concern and sensitivity.
#5 One step at a time
Change doesn't happen overnight. If they've made the effort to even empty the bin, eat healthy or hit the gym for once, following it up with a compliment, praise or 'Thank you' will encourage positive vibes between the both of you, and strengthen your bond.
#6 You can only change yourself
It's pretty amazing how easy it is to let someone else's quirks get to us. Ultimately, you have to remember that they are also another human being entitled to their own habits and way of living, even if they aren't aligned with yours. It is also what makes them, well, them.
In the day-to-day of your relationship, it's definitely not easy but consider letting go of annoying trifles to save your marriage and focus on the good things your loved one brings to your life.